The Barista League, born in Sweden three years ago as a grassroots competition and general shenanigans platform designed by baristas for baristas, is for the first time planning an event tour in the United States.
In an announcement chock full of Americana-isms old and relatively new, like Route 66 and the 2000 Cameron Crowe film “Almost Famous,” the Barista League crew has announced U.S. dates and stateside partners in the following cities:
- Portland – Aug. 30 (hosted by Black Rabbit Service Co.)
- Kansas City – Sept. 1 (hosted by Workbench Coffee Labs)
- Greenville – Sept. 6 (hosted by Ally Coffee)
- Philadelphia – Sept. 8 (hosted by Ultimo Coffee)
“The Barista League combines the playful atmosphere of a latte art throwdown with the competition standard of the Super Bowl and the prizes of The Oprah Show into one inclusive, engaging event format,” the group wrote in the U.S. tour announcement.
(Author’s note: Technically, it’s the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and it hasn’t aired since 2011, but you get the idea.)
In more practical terms, the Barista League competition involves teams of two baristas competing in fast-paced rounds in front of a judges panel in the categories of barista skills, sensory skills and “mystery round.” As for the Oprah-esque prizes, they’ll come from sponsor Ally Coffee and they might sound something like this: “You get a trip to origin, and you get a trip to origin, and you get a trip to origin!”
One of the Barista League’s points of pride is that despite nearly equal participation numbers between men and women, nearly 70 percent of the competition winners have been women, a figure that flies in the face of other prominent national and world barista competitions.
The U.S. tour will follow a 2018 European circuit that has included an Oslo event, a London event taking place tomorrow, April 12, in conjunction with the London Coffee Festival, and a May 6 event in Copenhagen described as “the world’s very first coffee-based Alleycat race.” What is that, you ask? According to the BL, it’s “an unsanctioned bicycle race with teams racing to complete all of the checkpoints in the quickest time. What is at these checkpoints? …fun, skillful, quirky coffee challenges of course!”